Your windshield is damaged, but perhaps you don’t think getting it repaired or replaced is your top priority. It should be. In addition to being part of the structural integrity of your car, a damaged windshield is unlikely to pass a state inspection.
While the inspection checklist varies by state, most states will require the inspector to review your windshield for any glass distortion, cracks and chips.
In Virginia, for example, the state police require technicians to look for cracked, scratched or broken glass.
The Virginia State Police say the vehicle will not pass inspection if:
New York State also has laws against vehicles passing inspection with a cracked windshield.
“Your windshield will not pass inspection if it has a crack more than 11 inches long, with any part of the crack in the windshield wiper path, or a ‘star’ crack which is more than three inches in diameter,” according to the New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.
If the inspector finds a crack when inspecting your vehicle, you can kiss your inspection sticker goodbye. And if you wait until the end of the month when your inspection is due, leaving yourself little to no time for repairs, you also open yourself to the risk of getting a ticket.
It’s important to have a trained technician assess any damage done to your windshield, no matter the shape, size or length of the chip or crack. In fact, there are five different types of cracks recognized in the Repair of Laminated Automotive Glass Standard (ROLAGS) that have different qualifiers for a repair or replacement. So while the damage may seem innocent enough, the structural integrity of your vehicle could be compromised.
Yes, you read that correctly: having a crack on your windshield is a lot more dangerous than it is a hindrance to have repaired or replaced. Aside from being unsightly, there are many reasons as to why a cracked windshield poses a threat to your safety.
First, the strength of the windshield can be compromised. In the event of an accident, you could be more likely to sustain injuries from broken glass.
Second, a windshield provides support to your vehicle in a roll-over incident. If the windshield is cracked, it leaves the vehicle occupants more vulnerable to injury or death.
Third, a cracked windshield can impair your vision depending on its placement. We humans have binocular vision, which means our eyes compensate for an obstruction to the vision of one eye with the unobstructed vision of the other. If both eyes are obstructed, it causes a blind spot. This is a recipe for disaster on the roadways.
Don’t forget, cracks can expand in certain weather conditions. Make it a priority to have a technician inspect the damage as soon as possible because what could have been a repair, may turn into a replacement.
So we know it’s dangerous, and that a damaged windshield should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. But is driving with a cracked windshield actually illegal?
Maybe your windshield cracked on the way to work and you’re just worried about getting back home later in the day. Or perhaps you’ve already contacted a glass and have an appointment scheduled, but they weren’t able to fit you in immediately. Will you have to worry about tangling with the law in the meantime?
The short answer is yes, driving with a damaged windshield is usually illegal. Most states have laws that define how a car’s equipment must operate. If the car does not meet these minimum requirements, then it is not roadworthy. Generally, the windshield is required to be structurally sound and free from anything that would impair the driver’s line of sight. Just because your car passed an annual inspection a few months ago though, doesn’t mean you can’t be ticketed for changes that have happened since. A damaged windshield opens the opportunity to receive a ticket for faulty equipment.
Obviously this varies from state to state as each has their own laws and stipulations regarding what is considered legal when it comes to vehicle equipment- so it is best to check your local laws. Whether your windshield is considered a safety issue also depends on the severity of the damage. Any damage should be evaluated by a professional as soon as possible as it is potentially unsafe—regardless of legality.
For the vehicle’s safety, the best option is to park the vehicle in a safe place as soon as possible and schedule an appointment with a glass shop that offers mobile service. This way the glass shop will come to you so you don’t have to continue driving the vehicle. The tech will have you back on the road and worry free in no time!
So before you put having that crack fixed on the back-burner, think about what could happen on your next commute. Remember, your insurance may cover a repair or replacement, so be sure to check with your agency. Depending on the type and location of damage, windshield repair may be an option. It is hundreds of dollars less than a replacement, according to the National Windshield Repair Association.
If your windshield has damage, don’t wait to get it repaired. Don’t take any chances and get your vehicle to a glass company as soon as possible to get any glass damage assessed. If you’re not sure who to call to fix the damage, Glass.com offers instant price quotes from shops in your area.
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